Quartz Daily Brief – Americas Edition – Deutsche Bank, euro zone data, Amazon’s tax, Cairo crisis

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today:

Deutsche Bank battles accounting allegations. Three of Deutsche Bank’s former employees have told US regulators that the German lender covered up paper losses during the financial crisis, the Financial Times reported (paywall). Deutsche has disputed the allegation. The UK newspaper also revealed that Warren Buffett provided support (paywall) to Deutsche in 2009. The SEC may be finding this very uncomfortable. Robert Khuzami, the regulator’s enforcement chief, was Deutsche Bank’s general counsel at the time of the alleged accounting cover up.

At the European Central Bank’s monthly meeting, its president Mario Draghi will do little. But expect him to leave the door open for action soon if conditions continue to deteriorate. Economists expect him to state again that the ECB is ready to put its bond purchase plan into action. But he will doubtless also stress that it is up to euro zone politicians to solve the debt crisis. He is unlikely to offer much hope of further imminent policy support for the wider economy.

Samsung and Apple head back to court. The fun never ends in the Patent Wars, as the two tech giants return to court in California to sort out the remaining questions from last summer’s landmark ruling: Should Samsung pay an additional $707 million in damages to Apple on top of the $1.05 billion it was already ordered to pay? Can Apple have Samsung products banned from sale? And will the whole thing just be thrown out for a retrial?

Will Golden Spike announce a privately funded manned mission to the moon? We hope so. The company, founded by a former NASA engineer, is making an announcement in Washington, DC, this afternoon.

Our continually updating US fiscal cliff whiteboard: As it happens, the cliff comes along 10 days after the end of the current (13th) baktun, a 394-year-long cycle in the Mayan calendar mistakenly identified with the advent of apocalypse. Just to be on the safe side, we’re now counting down to that too.

While you were sleeping:

More detail on the euro zone recession. Third-quarter GDP data for the euro zone confirmed Eurostat’s earlier estimate of a 0.1% contraction, putting the region officially back in recession. The detailed euro zone release showed government spending and household consumption fell, while exports were a rare bright spot.

Amazon’s tax dodges were unveiled. A Reuters investigation outlined how the internet giant has used inter-company payments as a tax shield to accumulate $2 billion to help finance its expansion. Shareholders will probably be delighted.

Starbucks said it was betting big on China. What slowdown? The coffee giant sees enough pent up demand for thousands of new stores in China, where it already gets away with selling coffee more expensively than it does in the US. Chinese people do not drink much alcohol, so Starbucks fills a space that, in America, would be inhabited by upmarket cocktail bars. (Though sometimes Starbucks’ Chinese customers buy nothing and just hang out because they think the coffee shops are cool).

Tanks rolled in to Cairo. The Egyptian government has deployed tanks following violent clashes that have led to around 300 injuries and at least five deaths. Egyptians are angry about Islamist president Mohammed Morsi’s decision to give himself sweeping new powers, and a planned new constitution that takes a controversial stance on women’s rights and suggests religious authorities may hold sway over democratically-elected lawmakers. Three of Morsi’s advisors have quit.

Quartz obsession interlude:

Simone Foxman on the massive upheaval in global maritime trade: ”The near-total closure of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which ended today after a week-long strike, could have crippled the flow of goods into the US. But it could be the start of new battles ahead for major US ports. The rise of bigger and more massive ships, the expansion of the Panama Canal to accommodate them, and increasing coordination between trucks and trains to make the journey over land cheaper could mean an upheaval in the ports’ dominance as early as 2015. This would completely alter the way goods enter the world’s largest consumer market.” Read more here.

Matters of debate:

A chemical weapons “nightmare” in Syria is not far fetched

Mexico’s new president learns PR from Brazil and Colombia. How to shift the conversation about your nation from cartels to construction.

Forget the BRICs. Invest in the TIPTPSNC. We’re still working on the acronym.

It’s not too late for a real stimulus in the US. How Congress could jolt growth and employment in America.

Why are banks making so much money? It’s their most profitable year since the financial crisis, and not even the Federal Reserve knows why.

Surprising discoveries:

The Financial Times featured a folk song called “bugger the bankers“. The FT’s Alphaville blog said: “we make no apologies, this is good.” It imparts the British people’s sense of alienation from the government and financiers, apparently. Americans may struggle to understand some of the Northern English slang.

Apes, like humans, suffer from mid-life crises. But they’re much more dignified. You never see an old ape cruising around in a sports car with his shirt open to his navel, do you?

A New Zealand charity is teaching dogs to drive (video). And succeeding in some cases.

Solar power investment makes more sense in Tanzania than Florida. Different grids make for different needs.

The history of AOL told through 14 years of New York Times crossword clues. Prodigy alternative, for short.”

RIP David Brubeck. The jazz innovator passes away, but his music lives on.

Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, feedback and suggestions for our mid-life crises to or hit “Reply” to this email.

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